The Telegraph says it has learnt that the EU has comprehensively rejected British plans for avoiding a hard Irish border, in a move that casts serious doubt on the UK’s ability to leave the customs union.
It quotes senior EU diplomatic sources as saying Theresa May’s proposals were subjected to a “systematic and forensic annihilation” at a meeting between senior EU and British officials this week.
The source tells the paper: “It was made clear that none of the UK’s customs options will work. None of them.”
The paper says British negotiators were fully aware of EU scepticism, but the complete inflexibility of the European Commission and EU member states is understood to have left them shocked.
According to the Times’s lead, Amber Rudd is at the centre of a new cabinet row over delays to Britain’s post-Brexit immigration policy.
It says the home secretary is being pressed by Brexit-supporting ministers to speed up a bill that is supposed to settle the new immigration system after Britain leaves.
The dispute – it adds – comes as turbulence caused by the Windrush scandal exposes a fault line between Theresa May’s hard-line stance on immigration and those, including Ms Rudd – who are pressing for a softer policy.
For its main story, the Express reports that a postcode lottery is leaving care patients facing huge bills just because of where they live.
It says an investigation has found that some vulnerable people can be up to 25 times less likely than others to get their costs covered.
According to the study – by the consumer group, Which? – the South Reading Clinical Commissioning Group paid for care for the lowest proportion of people, at 8.78 patients per 50,000, while Salford funded 220.38 patients.
Patients in Stockport were almost seven times less likely to get the funding than those eight miles away in Salford, the paper adds.
Many are upset by the decision of the House of Lords on Wednesday to overwhelmingly back an amendment challenging the government’s plans to leave the EU customs union.
Stephen Pollard in the Express says peers decided that their views should supersede those of the democratically elected government, not to mention brushing aside the direct wishes of the 52% who voted to leave the EU.
In the Sun’s view, they are no fans of democracy.
The Telegraph notes that every former cabinet secretary came out against the government.
The Mail’s Quentin Letts says they think it’s still their place in life to meddle in national affairs to a level that is dangerously incompatible with their professional standing.
Another former senior civil servant is fiercely criticised for saying that some in the coalition government had regarded Theresa May “hostile environment” immigration policy when she was home secretary as “almost reminiscent of Nazi Germany”.
Lord Kerslake – a former head of the civil service who’s lately been advising Jeremy Corbyn – made the remarks in a BBC Newsnight interview on Wednesday.
For the Mail, the comparison is a grave insult to the memory of the millions murdered by Hitler.
The Sun says the Nazi regime is a byword of evil of the most unimaginable kind, and Lord Kerslake should be ashamed of himself.
Finally, the Sun reports that soldiers at a barracks in west London have been protesting over the treatment of their regiment’s mascot dog.
The paper has been told by “insiders” that the wolfhound – Domhnall – should have been retired long ago, but is still being trotted out on parades and is being worked to his “death-bed”.
It says walls at the Irish Guards’ barracks have been spray-painted with the words “Justice 4 Domhnall” because of concerns about his health.
The army tells the paper Domhnall has been declared fit to work by vets and the graffiti was left by well-meaning soldiers unfamiliar with his true condition.
“Domhnall’s welfare is always of utmost importance”, it adds.